AVOCADO ON TOAST.

A girlfriend recently told me about the most amazing avocado toast in town.

She reminisced about her experience eating said toast and meeting the chef. According to her, the chef had worked at countless five-star restaurants all over the Dallas-Forth Worth area. Starting his own local coffee shop, he began to offer the infamous "avo-toast" as seen in coffee shops across the globe.

His avo-toast is now one of their best selling items! Classically trained and having held head chef positions at countless restaurants never did he imagine slicing avocado and putting it on toast would sell so well! 

That's us, isn't it? Trying with all our might to make something work out of our own knowledge or strength only to discover, we had the ingredients we needed all along...

After hearing this story I said, "Well, that's a blog post!". And even today, as I sat to write this I asked God to help me draw the conclusion and bring this seemingly symbolic story full circle. He answered me, "You already have what you need." 

Of course! His Living Word! This was the avo-toast moment. I'd had the ingredients I'd needed all along.

Do you see how He works?
Do you see how He provides?
Do you see what He can do with our little? 

In my reading, I was guided to John 6, where Jesus feeds the 5,000 (No, this wasn't planned! LOL). 

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
JOHN 6:5-9

You already have all you need! He's offering it to you in ample supply. 


FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Read John 6:1-15. What sticks out to you? Journal about this miracle. 
  2. Are there areas in your life you believe God may be trying to do more? 
  3. How can you give more of yourself to God, in this season of life? 

ZIGGY STARDUST.

Spring 2014 I did something no soon-to-be wife should ever do without asking her soon-to-be husband.

I rescued a dog.

Bringing our dog count from 1 to 2... Seeing as how our first fur-baby was named after Joshua's childhood favorite musician (Dolly Parton), we promptly named fur-baby number two, Ziggy Stardust

But I mean, look at that face? How could I have said no?! 

SIDE NOTE: Often, Joshua and I will joke how we selected each other in dog form. He, the hyperactive mutt and me the melancholy diva-mastiff. (I find this hilarious, personally!)

Fast forward to today, a couple sets of eaten leather sandals, pee stains and chewed floorboards later and we have a moderately housetrained 2-year-old pup. Don't get me wrong, we love our little Ziggster! He's a cuddle bug, loves to play fetch and tug-of-war and chase birds. What he doesn't love so much is walking on a leash. 

Walking Ziggy is an event. It's a workout all on its own. He's never fully grasped the idea of walking. Harnesses, chains, whistles, growling (yes, I tried that too) - none of it seems to keep him from the inevitable pulling and yanking. 

As we head out the door to the park (or anywhere, really) he knows he gets to go somewhere. His ears perk up, his tail wags and he begins panting with excitement as he lunges forward on his leash. With all gumption, he frantically paws at the ground in rapid succession hoping to propel himself forward. Unable to recognize it doesn't matter how hard he pulls, he continues exerting his energy. Little does he know he's only going to make it as far ahead of me as I let him. 

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you ever find yourself attempting to run ahead of God? No shame or condemnation here, friend. We all do it! It's all too easy to become quickly deceived into believing our way is faster, better, more efficient, etc.

Recalling a conversation I had with one of my pastors, she offered some wisdom I've clung to for a few years. She said, "I try to wake in the mornings and ask God, 'God, what assignment do you have for me today?"'. What if we all woke up each day and took a moment to earnestly seek where He wanted us to go that day? Instead of hitting the ground running our own direction and trying with all our might to pull God along with us - we could instead fall in line with where He's leading us. The Living word says:

I have seen that every [effort in] labor and every skill in work comes from man's rivalry with his neighbor. This too is vanity (futility, false pride) and chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 AMP

Doesn't that passage remind you of Ziggy and his leash? Chasing after the wind - forcing his way from point A to point B without giving head to his master. Another translation reads: 

One hand full of peaceful repose is better than two fistfuls of worried work - More spitting into the wind. - Ecclesiastes 4:6 MSG

"Spitting into the wind". Have you ever tried spitting out your car window while you're driving? Yea, you know what happens... When we try to run ahead of God and make our own plans, outside of His will - we may as well be spitting into the wind. He wants more for us! His Word says in Psalm 119:1-8ish (MSG): 

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.

Let's stop pulling on our "leash" and let God surprise with where He'll lead! 

FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Read Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 139: 23-24. Journal about these passages and what God reveals to you through His word.
  2. What is God showing you about His timing and direction, in this season? 

THE FIGHT.

kickboxer girl kaitlyn stephens

I really hate the enemy (aka the devil). He's an evil, conniving, ugly, and divisive manipulator of truth and light. He truly comes to stand in the way of all that God has for us. Or, as the apostle John wrote: 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Until recent events, I can't with certainty tell you've I've ever experienced the fullness of righteous rage toward this heinous creature. Sure, I've felt the quakes of his attacks but never before have I been so enraged that my physical self wanted to impart such harm to any being, much less one of the spiritual world. 

While I always aim to be completely transparent with you, I must admit there are still some wounds that have yet to heal. Wounds the leader of the dark world has left on me, my thoughts, my relationships and my family. I'm okay; I'm fighting and I'm choosing to awaken each morning with praise on my lips and an eagerness to grow in the grace and knowledge so freely offered by our savior, Jesus.

I'm sure you can relate. We all have times in our life where everything seems to be in jeopardy. Where life appears to be falling apart at the seams and no one is there to catch you on the way down. A time in life where something so incredibly evil and ugly came to cast a shadow on what felt was your entire world. Maybe that's what you're walking through right now. Or perhaps you've never experienced this type of pain. My prayer is that you would never have to.  

I do want to be explicitly clear here: I do NOT write about the enemy to give him power. He has NO power of me, over you, or over anything in this world. Rather, I write this to share with you what the good Lord has been teaching me in this season, to shed light on how we can stand up against the powers of darkness and to encourage you to press on and lift your hands in praise the Father of Light.

As one of the Psalmist once said: 

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. Psalm 27:3 NIV

Looking back on my childhood, I recall my parents referring to a time in their life as "the dark ages". They seemed to almost joke about it. And as an admittedly sheltered teenager, I wasn't able to understand the depth or gravity of what I was hearing. I won't try to assume that I know what they were walking through at the time. What I do know is what I saw. I saw two people fighting. They fought for their marriage, finances, jobs, children and their Savior. Through their darkest of times, I was coming to learn more about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and what being a follower of Jesus looked like during the 'dark ages'. What did it look like? it looked a whole lot like not giving up in the middle of the fight of a lifetime. 

You know who else didn't give up in the middle of a fight? 

David. A boy warrior, walked into battle with loaves of bread and stood fearless in the face of his enemy. 

It's not enough to be enraged by the enemy. When he wages a war against us, we absolutely must do more than stew in our anger. 

• When dissension falls on our families, we fall to our knees.
• When our minds are plagued with thoughts of self-harm, we pick up the strongest weapon in our arsenal: God's Word.
• When our homes are attacked, we rise up and speak a hedge of protection around our home and our loved ones.
• When our marriages are suffering, we stand beside our spouse and say, "NOT TODAY SATAN!" and declare victory for God says what He has joined together nothing can separate.

We have to rise up! We have to fight! Even writing this blog has been an uphill battle. It's been nearly a month of sitting down to write and walking away frustrated that the words weren't flowing as easily as they have before.

Should I expect anything less?

I'm literally defaming the name of the enemy and praising the name of JESUS! Of course this was hard to write. Of course your battles will seem insurmountable! 

So, when wars rise up against us, how will we choose to fight? Will we succumb to the fumbling attacks of our ever losing enemy or will we fight from a place of truth, light and surrender? 

The fight is inevitable.
We might as well choose to fight from our knees.


FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Read Matthew 4:1-11. The enemy does not have a new playbook. He's using the same schemes he used on Jesus, even today!
  2. Consider your current temptations. Is the devil tempting you similarly to the way he tempted Christ? How can you stand up against the enemy in this season? 
  3. What is God showing you about His goodness and faithfulness, in this season?